Kosovar toddler recovering after operation

A two-year-old Kosovar boy is recovering in a British hospital today following an exploratory surgical procedure to help him swallow solid food.

Visar Zymberi suffers from a life-threatening congenital oesophageal condition which means he can only swallow liquids.

Since birth he has been surviving on milk from his mother Sadije, who cannot hear or speak, and he could die without the appropriate medical treatment.

Yesterday doctors at the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital carried out a one-and-a-half hour examination which detected a significant narrowing of his oesophagus.

A balloon was passed through a narrow area in his oesophaghus, which was then dilated to allow solids to be consumed.

Visar will now have to receive intensive training by dieticians to teach him how to swallow and chew.

A hospital spokeswoman said today: "He is recovering from his operation and suffice to say he will need a couple of days to get over it."

However, the hospital said that although the balloon procedure was successful it was only a temporary measure and the problem would recur.

Doctors are also investigating the likelihood of an underlying medical problem called gastro-oesophageal reflux, and within the next two weeks it will be known whether Visar will have to undergo a major procedure to correct this condition.

He also has a weakness in the trachea which causes coughing fits after he swallows.

Visar will remain in hospital for the next few days before being discharged and is likely to be readmitted in around two weeks' time.

The youngster was operated on three times during the first two months of his life, but his fourth operation was abandoned after the outbreak of war in the Balkan region.

The child, who lost his father and grandfather during the fighting, comes from the mountain village of Prelofc in the Drenica valley, which was one of the worst hit regions during the war.

Charity workers discovered his plight at the end of last year during door-to-door visits in the area and Aberdeen group No Frontiers, with the assistance of other members of the Scottish Charities Kosovo Appeal team, helped bring him to the UK.